Friday, June 24, 2016

DB Cox- A Poem


when an old man dreams
             
"It's been a long time coming
It's going to be a long time gone
But you know that the darkest hour
Is always just before the dawn…" 
       Crosby, Stills & Nash -
       “Long Time Gone”

the quiet in this place
has turned my mind
to stone
i am no longer
a part of the picture
i sit & count
the beats of my heart
i am leaking time

once i had a family
a silent father
a mother
who wrote me long letters
messages concerning
forgiveness, love, & god
well-meaning lessons
in something or other

the doctors
have been exquisitely thorough
they are able to read my mind
i am convinced
that my thoughts
appear above my head
wrapped inside
cartoon balloons

sometimes they take me
to a private room
where i am put on display
like a circus animal
the doctors talk about me
as if i'm not there
they make conjectures
concerning my future
i have no part in the show
i am becoming wary
of the doctors

morning in the day room
sitting in a lounge chair
with my head tilted back
directly overhead
two spots
where the paint
has peeled away
unblinking dark eyes
that stare down at me constantly
waiting for me to break
waiting for me to confess
waiting for me
to apologize

in the room where i sleep
there's a strange mark
just above the baseboard
it runs all the way
across the wall
& disappears into the corner
it looks like a tripwire
when i'm in the room
i watch it closely
yesterday--
just before sundown
i saw it move

when i looked
along the bottom of the wall
i spied a black-haired boy
on his knees behind the wire
he glanced in both directions
then reached out
& tugged lightly at line
as if he were testing it
then he crawled away
into the triple-canopy jungle
viet cong in the perimeter

slow movement forward
through another day
i gage the time
by the light left in the room

when i lie down at night
i no longer have a reason
or a desire
to wake in the morning

it's a long time
before the dawn
& when an old man dreams
he is forever nineteen
& stranded in the savage days
of his youth

viet cong bodies are strung
from the perimeter wire
to the tree line
two are so close together
they seem
to be holding each other
i walk over to one VC
separate from the rest
half in and half out
of the bush
inches from a clean getaway
i am riding the remains
of an adrenaline high
mind still running
like a wild dog
the wounded soldier
lying at my feet
looks up at me
& blinks the sweat
from dark eyes
now his eyes are mine
& my eyes are his
the same empty stare
of forgotten things
the barrel of my rifle
is only inches
from his skinny chest
he opens his mouth
as if to speak
i pull the trigger

the explosion
flushes a multicolored bird
skyward


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